CLAUSE: Green Your Hotel

“Group expects Hotel will identify, recommend, and use as many environmentally responsible practices as possible and feasible for Group's meeting. These practices should include, but are not limited to, waste management, recycling, energy use, use of renewable resources, and conservation of nonrenewable resources.

Hotel agrees to provide and/or implement the following at no additional charge to Group:

  • Recycling program (materials to be recycled: paper, plastic, glass, aluminum cans, cardboard, and grease);

  • Clearly marked recycling containers in common areas, including lobby and hotel guest rooms, unless hotel sorts and recycles;

  • Towel and sheet reuse program;

  • Consumable amenities will not be replaced daily unless they are gone. Use of soap and shampoo dispensers would be optimal;

  • Hotel housekeeping staff instructed to shut blinds and turn down heat/air conditioning during the day in rooms while attendees are gone;

  • Use of glass or china (nondisposable) catering plates, cups, and glasses;

  • No Styrofoam used;

  • Condiments (including sugar, cream, butter, cream cheese, etc.) served in bulk containers, not individual servings;

  • Shade-grown coffee served at conference functions;

  • Cloth napkins used when possible; coasters used instead of cocktail napkins;

  • All leftover food donated to a local food bank;

  • All table scraps donated to a local farm or composted; and

  • Use of cleaning products that do not introduce toxins into the air or water.

If Hotel is unable to provide any of the above requested environmental practices during Group's meeting dates, Hotel will inform Group in writing at least thirty (30) days prior to meeting dates. Hotel warrants that any environmental programs in place at the time of contract signing will be in place at the time of the event, and Hotel agrees to cooperate with enhancing any such programs as needed to accommodate Group's environmental practice requests, above. Failure to adhere to the stated green policies may result in compensation concessions for Group.”

(This clause was adapted from language provided by Meeting Strategies Worldwide.)

EFFECT: You'll Clean Up

As "green meeting" becomes more than just buzzwords and meeting professionals begin to consider environmental issues a necessity rather than a luxury, clauses like the one above may become more common in hotel contracts. Language like "…as many environmentally responsible practices as possible and feasible…" leaves some room for interpretation and scope. However, the specific list of environmental practices clarifies the minimum level of action required by the hotel and specifies that failure to meet the standards set forth will result in "compensation concessions for Group."

This clause could be strengthened by specifying the exact amount of money damages that the hotel would have to pay to the group for failure to adhere to one or more of the listed practices. Another way to strengthen this clause would be to specify—in this clause or in the force majeure clause in the contract—that the group can terminate the contract without liability if the hotel informs the group that the hotel is unable to provide any of the requested environmental practices. Before adding such language, the meeting planner would want to carefully consider whether terminating the contract would be a feasible option and, if so, whether 30 days is a reasonable amount of notice or whether 60, 90, or some additional amount of time might be necessary.

The primary objective of this clause is to give incentive to the Hotel to engage in more environmentally responsible business practices. Greening the business of meetings may require a departure from typical ways of running a hotel and may require additional staff training or cost. Still, the principle of supply and demand would indicate that if meeting professionals begin to insist on these practices and use a clause like this to as part of their basis for facility selection decisions, more hotels will begin engaging in environmentally sound practices to gain or keep a competitive edge. This clause is more about trying to get hotels to "do the right thing" for the environment than it is about money damages, but the fact that money damages might be incurred by a hotel that fails to meet the standards set forth in the clause will provide incentive for a hotel to carefully consider and adhere to the practices set forth in the clause.

Tyra W. Hilliard, Esq., CMP ( is an industry lawyer and assistant professor of event and meeting management at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.